Date of Issue: Nov. 14, 1995
"The Same President Who Ran His 1992 Campaign on the Need for a Balanced Budget is Now Willing to Risk Everything to Prevent One From Being Signed into Law," Group Says
As long as President Bill Clinton refuses to agree to a seven-year balanced budget plan, Congress should resist any temptation to compromise to end the government shutdown, say members of the national African-American leadership group Project 21. The government lost its authority to spend funds at midnight on Monday after President Clinton vetoed a temporary bill passed by Congress to allow for continued spending. As a result, nearly 800,000 federal employees, those deemed "nonessential," are furloughed until a spending bill is signed by the President.
"The same President who ran his 1992 campaign on the need for a balanced budget is now willing to risk everything to prevent one from being signed into law," points out Project 21 Chairman Edmund Peterson. "The time has come for Mr. Clinton to admit that he either does not want a balanced budget or that higher taxes rather than less government spending is the method by which he hopes to achieve one. The only good that can come out of this is if the American people realize our country can function absent a mammoth-sized federal government. In the private sector, 'nonessential' employees do not exist -- in Washington D.C., they compose half of the federal work force."
The temporary spending bill vetoed by the President on Monday cut $250 billion worth of foreign and domestic discretionary programs by an estimated $24 billion, called for the termination of several agencies, and maintained spending levels at 60% for programs slated to be eliminated (the last temporary bill which expired Monday kept spending levels at 90%). In addition to opposing these provisions, the President has strongly objected to a Republican budget proposal to maintain Medicare premiums at 31.5% of total patient costs. To maintain that level, Medicare premiums would rise from $46.10 to $53.50 by New Years Day. President Clinton's proposal follows the current schedule which means premiums would drop to $42.50 on January 1. Both sides understand that Medicare will go bankrupt if premiums do not increase. The Republicans' long-term proposal calls for premiums to increase to $87 by 2002; President Clinton's plan would have premiums increase to $83 in seven years, but under the President's plan no increases would take place until after the 1996 elections.
Except for beltway pundits, hysterical journalists, and federal bureaucrats, I don't think anyone will notice," proclaims Project 21 member and motivational speaker Reginald Jones about the government shutdown. "The Clinton Administration and the media have engaged in a 'big lie' campaign about the Republican budget proposals. The refusal of Congress to bend to the spending habits of the President only means that the federal government will have to do what every working American does in this country from paycheck to paycheck -- prioritize."
On Monday, Clinton also vetoed a temporary borrowing bill passed by Congress that would have prevented the government from defaulting on its loans for the first time in history. If the debt-ceiling bill is not signed by Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has threatened to use federal pension funds to avoid default. The debt ceiling has been raised 77 times since 1940, most recently in 1993. The Congressional borrowing bill would have raised the ceiling $67 billion over the current $4.9 trillion debt limit. The proposal also called for the ceiling to be reduced to $4.8 trillion on December 12 with no option by the federal government to avoid default by raiding the Social Security trust fund or other government pension funds. In other words, if the debt ceiling bill is approved by the President, the President needs to negotiate a balanced budget by December 12, lest the government default on its payments. Instead of signing the temporary bill, Clinton decided to veto it while he still has the option of avoiding default by using money from federal pension funds. The President's other objections to the borrowing bill were that provisions in it would have limited habeas corpus appeals for death-row inmates, required a balanced budget in seven years, and required risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis before any new health, safety and environmental regulations could be issued.
Project 21 member Stuart Pigler, Political Editor of Destiny magazine, stated that "The government shutdown is only going to hurt the President, because the people most affected probably voted for him anyway. The rest of America really doesn't care, no matter how much the Administration tries to convince us that the average American can't function without the government."
For an interview, contact Project 21 at (202) 507-6398
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